Research will be much more feasible than excavation

COMMENT: University has to prove it offers value for money

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It is right and proper that we should respect our military heroes – both when they are alive and after they’ve passed away.

We believe that these very special people deserve to be treated with dignity.

That’s why we’re so committed to campaigning for an Arctic Convoy medal and why we will soon remember those who fought and died defending the Falklands.

We therefore congratulate the Victoria Cross Trust for the valuable work it does to highlight the outstanding bravery of those who received this particular honour.

None of us should forget the sacrifices others have made on our behalf, or the gallant actions that led to some of our ancestors receiving the Victoria Cross.

That’s why we understand why the trust is upset to learn that the body of Crimean War hero, Thomas Reeves, doesn’t lie in a proper grave in a cemetery somewhere, but rather in a mass paupers’ grave under the city’s ferry port.

Simply put, it is not a fitting final resting place for a war hero.

But how feasible is it to try and move him now?

We recognise that there will be those who believe Mr Reeves’ body should be exhumed and re-buried but in all honesty that would not be possible at the moment.

Sadly, a peculiar set of circumstances mean that when the ferry port was expanded, the area where this sailor’s body is believed to be was not touched.

Yet the exact location of the mass grave is not known and no-one knows how many bodies are there.

We believe the port has done its best and the plaque put up in Mr Reeves’ names goes a long way to honouring his memory.

While the port is unable to do more at the moment, we don’t think this should be the end of the matter.

The port’s owner, Portsmouth City Council, must now investigate whether a more satisfactory solution can be found.

That can only come via more detailed research in the hope that some record can come to light that will help pinpoint Mr Reeves’ exact location. Only then will he get the grave he deserves.